On Tuesday, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.), a member of the Ag. Committee, discussed the importance of the SNAP program (food stamps).
The Farm Bill passed out of the Ag. Comm. included approximately $4 billion in cuts to the program. Sen. Gillibrand maintained that the program should not be subject to any cuts in the farm legislation.
A portion of her remarks are included below.
After the vote on her amendment, Sen. Gillibrand tweeted:
V disappointed my amendment to restore $4.1b in funding to #SNAP food stamp program in #farmbill failed on the Senate floor today.
Yesterday afternoon, the Senate proceeded to consider the Farm Bill (S.954).
“Democrats and Republicans disagree on many things. So it’s really remarkable and encouraging to see how well Senators Stabenow and Senator Cochran — the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee — worked together to bring the agriculture jobs bill to the floor. Their work has been exemplary — some would say old-fashioned — the way things used to be,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) said yesterday.
“In an effort to expedite the floor process, the committee even included many of the amendments that were adopted last year, when the Senate considered and passed a farm bill. I hope their cooperative spirit guides our work on this important legislation. American farmers are counting on us. So is the economy,” Leader Reid noted; while adding that, “But to keep American farms strong, Congress must pass a strong farm bill.”
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) discussed Farm Bill issues on the Senate floor on Monday.
In part, Sen. Brown noted that, “People who are going to receive federally subsidized crop insurance need to show they are meeting basic conservation requirements. Again, the days of subsidies without conditions and subsidies without responsibility are over. It is an example of what can happen when groups with different perspectives— the commodities farmers and the conservationists -come together to listen to each other. By relinking crop insurance subsidies with good environmental practices, this bill makes our farm safety net more defensible and protects our natural resources.”
On Monday, Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R., Miss.) discussed the Farm Bill on the Senate floor.
In part, Sen. Cochran noted that, “The committee has crafted reforms in the nutrition title to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. These are big challenges, and these challenges have been met with a recognition that there are people who need the support of programs such as this—schoolchildren who are attending school and getting the benefit of a reduced price and, in some cases, free meals at school. This has made major contributions to the quality of work and the degree and level of education that children are able to absorb and benefit from, and it is tied to these programs.”
On Monday, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) discussed the Farm Bill on the Senate floor.
In part, Chairwoman Stabenow noted that, “That is why we have what we call the farm bill. We have a farm bill because farmers are in the riskiest business in the world. We saw that last year as our country was in the grip of the worst drought in generations. We saw this as ranchers had to cull their herds because they couldn’t get enough food or water for their cattle. We saw all across the country that farmers lost their crops in late spring freezes that wiped out cherry and apple crops in Michigan and other parts of the country. That is why the top goal of the agriculture reform bill is risk management. We are reforming farm programs, ending direct payments and other subsidies that have no relationship to risk and instead giving farmers market-based risk management tools. That is the hallmark of this farm bill.
“We want to make sure a farm that has been passed on for generations doesn’t face bankruptcy because of a drought or other events outside the farmer’s control. We also want to make sure that when there is a drought we are conserving our precious soil and water resources. When it comes to conservation, the farm bill is risk management for the whole country. Conservation programs in the farm bill make sure our soil doesn’t blow away and our waters aren’t polluted by runoff.
“In many parts of the country last year we had a drought that was worse than the Dust Bowl, but we didn’t have a dust bowl. We didn’t have out-of-control erosion, and that is because the farm bill did what it was supposed to do in conservation. Soil stayed on the ground. It is easy to take that for granted as well.”
From C-SPAN Online (May 20): Alan Bjerga talked about the ten-year farm bill being worked on in Congress, and he responded to telephone calls and electronic communications. The legislation funding cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as “food stamps.” program. Topics included the differing House and Senate versions of the bill, the number of Americans who could be affected by SNAP cuts, and calls for better management and oversight.
A floor schedule update posted recently at the Senate Democrats webpage indicated that, “The Senate stands in adjournment until 2:00pm on Monday, May 20, 2013. Following any Leader remarks, the Senate will be in a period of morning business until 3:00pm.
“Following morning business, the Senate will proceed to the consideration of S.954, the Farm bill.”
Also on Friday, The Mississippi Business Journal Blog reported that, “Politics, agriculture, and the economy were the hot topics on a rainy Delta morning as hundreds gathered for the 78th annual meeting of Delta Council, Friday, May 17, on the campus of Delta State University…[F]ollowing the business session of the annual meeting, United States Senator Thad Cochran introduced United States Senator from Michigan and Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Nutrition Debbie Stabenow as the featured speaker.”
In a telenews conference with reporters yesterday, Senate Ag. Comm. Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) commented on how quickly the panel’s Farm Bill will move from the Committee to the Senate floor: “I don’t know if this is a record, but it’s got to be one of the — possible records for getting a bill from committee on to the floor for consideration, so I’m very pleased about that…after coming out of the committee with 15 to five strong bipartisan vote, we did not have objection to moving to the bill, and there are very few things that have occurred this year, or in — in over the last number of years, that did not require a motion to proceed, and several days of waiting, and a cloture vote, and so on, in order to get to the bill.
“We did not have to do that, there was not an objection to going to the bill, and I hope that bodes well for — for moving things through next week.”
Later, Chairwoman Stabenow indicated that, “We’re going to start debate, and we’ll be moving on amendments, you know, as quickly as possible. So I absolutely expect to be on amendments next week, and you know, urging people now to put their amendments together, let them know — let us know what they are so we can work with them.”
Farm Bill: House Agriculture Committee Advances Legislation
DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton reported yesterday that, “The battle over dairy policy took center stage in the House Agriculture Committee’s early debate on the farm bill Wednesday as committee reforms to commodity and conservation programs were approved relatively unscathed.”
Mr. Clayton explained that, “Debate in the House put dairy policy front and center. The farm bill includes language from the Dairy Security Act, crafted by ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., following the collapse of dairy prices in 2009. Peterson and others worked to successfully get the dairy act into both the House and Senate versions of the bill. The Dairy Security Act creates a margin protection between national milk prices and the average cost of feed. Producers get basic coverage and can buy higher coverage if they want. At the same time, the provision has more controversial language that creates a market stabilization program meant to manage the size of the national dairy herd.
“The market stabilization program kicks in when dairy prices are low and profit margins collapse. Producers whose herd size exceeds a base amount would lose payments unless they culled down the size of their milking herd.”
On Wednesday night during the markup of the 2013 Farm Bill, the House Ag Committee debated, and ultimately passed an amendment by Rep. Steve King (R, Iowa) relating to the Commerce Clause and the production of agricultural products.
The debate on the amendment was spirited and lengthy, and is of particular interest to producers involved in animal production.
May 14 (Bloomberg) — “The ranking Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee and his predecessor were on different sides today as the panel worked through the new farm bill. Bloomberg’s Alan Bjerga speaks with Mark Crumpton on Bloomberg Television’s ‘Bottom Line.’” (Source: Bloomberg)
DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton reported yesterday (link requires subscription) that, “The markup of the Senate version of the farm bill translated into few substantive changes in the legislation, but Tuesday’s three-and-a-half-hour debate highlighted the philosophical and regional split among Republicans over target prices.
“The bill, formally named the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013, passed out of committee early Tuesday afternoon on a vote of 15-5. Four Republicans [Roberts, Thune, Johanns, McConnell] and one Democrat [Gillibrand] voted against it.
“Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., told reporters afterward that floor debate on the Senate farm bill could begin as early as Wednesday. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the bill will come up immediately after the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) is finished. Final votes on that bill are expected Wednesday.”